Increasing Academic Requirements May Reduce Teen Drug and Alcohol Use

New research suggests a link between increased academic requirements and a reduction in teen drug use, drinking and smoking.

A study recently published in the American Journal of Health Economics analyzed the relationship between the number of math and science courses that states require for a high school diploma and risky behavior among students. Their analysis included more than 100,000 students in 47 states, The New York Times reports.

The researchers found increases in state math and science high school graduation requirements reduced alcohol consumption, without leading to an increase in marijuana or cigarette use. For each additional math or science course required, the odds students would drink or binge drink decreased 1.6 percent.

While the study did not address why increased graduation requirements might reduce risky behavior, the researchers said it is possible students who spend more time on schoolwork have less time to engage in risky behavior.